Red Dots on Skin: 19 Causes, Some Serious


Red Dots on Skin: 19 Causes, Some Serious
December 07, 2009 by Jillita Horton

Red dots on the skin usually don’t mean cancer – usually. But you should get acquainted with your skin and what is normal for it versus not normal, so that if you start seeing reddish dots, you’ll know whether to immediately see a doctor, or just relax and not worry.

I asked Joshua L. Fox, M.D., F.A.A.D., Director and Founding Physician of Advanced Dermatology, PC, about what could possibly cause red dots on the skin. Many things can cause this, and some of those causes are cancer.
Dr. Fox says that red dots have many causes from a variety of skin conditions. Here is a list of the most common:

– Red bumps – can be pus-filled over the face, chest and back: Acne

– Reddish raised flat sores: allergic reaction, irritant or allergic contact dermatitis, herpes, malaria, heat rash

– Reddish dome-shaped bumps, appears sprinkled randomly and itchy: insect bites

– Small red dot, larger or bruise-like spots that appear after taking a medicine: allergic purpura

– Red, raised strawberry like appearance: hemangiomas (scary-sounding name, but very harmless; also called angiomas)

Other causes:

– Reddish & flushed appearance around cheeks, chin, forehead and nose: rosacea

– Red, itchy rash that affects the groin area: jock itch, yeast infection, diaper rash in infants

– Expanding, red and slightly itchy rashes over the chest and abdomen: pityriasis rosea

– Scattered pink and red dots when a patient is feeling under the weather: viral infection.

When it means skin cancer:

– Red, scaly, crusted unusual growth on the lip, chin or anywhere on the face: squamous or basal cell carcinoma

– Reddish, irregular shape and colors: amelanoticmelanoma

– Reddish, purplish, dark or black raised spots anywhere that keep growing: Kaposi’s sarcoma

– Rarely a skin cancer can present as this: molluscum

Lumps and Bumps


Lumps and Bumps: Know your skin

Your skin is your first line of defense against a wide range of bacteria, viruses, and diseases. So when you find color changes, bumps, lumps, moles, warts, or flaky or crusty patches, you might want to know what’s going on.

Joshua Fox, MD, spokesman for the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, helps to clarify what we need to know about skin changes:

  • Moles: Most people are aware of the need to examine moles that appear throughout life and are most often harmless. Check for new changes that occur, particularly in parts of the skin exposed to sunlight. The most suspicious moles for skin cancer are usually larger, more irregular in shape and/or color. Check yourself regularly for anything unusual, and ask your doctor to check any moles that concern you.
  • Warts: Warts are common growths that occur on various parts of the body as a result of the human papilloma virus (HPV). Warts can go away on their own. But some people have their doctors remove warts because they look bad or become irritated.
  • Skin tags: Skin tags are an annoying type of growth that about half of all people develop as they age. These are small pieces of hanging flesh that develop in areas prone to rubbing against clothing or other skin. You may find them on moist areas such as the upper thighs, underarms, neck, and under women’s breasts from underwire bras. Another common site is the eyelid. A skin specialist can remove these if they are painful, irritating, bleeding, infected, or often caught in clothing.

Lumps and Bumps: Know your skin was also published in National Physical Fitness & Sports Month Newsletter – Download Here (Require PDF reader to view)

DON’T LET THAT ALLERGEN GET AWAY!: Leading medical experts offers advice for preventing contact dermatitis in kids.


New York , NY May 2006 – Your child has developed a red, itchy spot on her face, but you may be clueless as to the cause

Contact dermatitis – redness, swelling, itching and flaking of the skin – is the result of an allergen’s direct contact with the skin; the longer the substance remains on the skin oftentimes, the more severe the reaction.

Approximately 20% of all children at some time have contact dermatitis. Approximately 20-35% of healthy children react to one or more allergens on standard patch tests. Family history is also a good predictor. Children whose parents have contact dermatitis are 60% more likely to have positive patch test results.

“Since allergic reactions may not show up until several days after the initial exposure, the direct cause isn’t always clear-cut. One way to narrow the field is to look at the age of the child,” comments Joshua Fox, MD, dermatologist and founder of Advanced Dermatology and The Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery. Dr. Fox points out some of the typical irritants affecting children at various stages of development.

– Recent studies have shown that some diaper rashes may be caused by color dyes in diapers.

– The recent trend of piercing ears in infants may be the cause of nickel allergies.

– Constant exposure to saliva, from babies’ drooling, can cause irritations.

– Latex, which can also be an allergen, is found in pacifiers.

Toddlers and preschool children
– Starting to explore the outside world, this age group becomes more exposed to poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.

– Nickel is one of the most common metals that cause contact dermatitis; it is the most frequent contact allergen in girls over the age of eight. Costume jewelry, belt buckles, wristwatches, zippers, snaps and hooks can contain nickel.

– Latex is present in rubber toys and balloons.

– May develop reactions from overexposure to soaps, creams, sunscreens and lotions.

– Nickel allergies may occur from body piercing.

– Permanent hair dye and dyes used in perfumes and cosmetics can cause reactions.

– Contact lens solutions contains mercury, which can cause irritations.

– Acrylates, used in the application of artificial nails and in eyeglass frames, can be skin allergens.

– Pine resins, a sticky material found in bowling balls, baseball bats and strings on musical instruments, can cause a reaction on the fingers and hands.

Home Care
What to do? Dr. Fox suggests that if the irritation seems mild, to try home remedies:

– If you know what caused the inflammation, make sure your child avoids contact with it.

– Wash clothing and all objects that touched the allergen to prevent re-exposure.

– If your child is exposed to the allergen, immediately wash the affected area with soap and cool water.

– Apply cold, moist compresses for 30 minutes, three times a day to affected area.

– Relieve itching with OTC lotions – antihistamines, 1% hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, cool oatmeal baths and over the counter oral antihistamines.

Professional Care
If the inflammation doesn’t improve in a few days, or itching becomes unbearable, seek professional medical care. Dr. Fox explains, “A dermatologist can give your child a patch test to identify the specific cause of the contact dermatitis. After the allergens are identified, your physician will consult with you and your child on how to avoid the substances, specific substitute products that do not cause reactions, and possible medical interventions, such as immunotherapy shots and corticosteroids.”